July 23, 2009

Will the press turn on Obama now?

Will the press turn on Obama now that things are headed a little south for him? It's certainly possible. But it depends on a couple of things. Remember, they were believers in the cause even though the cause was defined in the sketchiest of terms: Hope, Change, and for them specifically, the power of the press to influence the masses. But the Obama victory has been won last November.

Up until that point his deceptions and inconsistencies were tolerated because it was necessary to stay on message - hope and change - for victory. Even after the victory there was euphoria and there was a need to have the "I told you so." moment. So the deceptions were still tolerated. And the delays in implementing utopia were okay.

But the time for a grace period will not be indefinite. And if the situation merits it, the press will throw Obama under the bus faster than you can say "abysmal job approval ratings". Its a matter of self preservation. If the press is seen as backing the guy everyone sees as ineffective or worse, you lose whatever credibility you think you still have.

That's not to say the mainstream press aren't true believers. They predominantly are. But they are as much true believers in their liberal utopia as the are believers in The One. If he becomes a threat to that utopia because of his unpopularity, it is as bad as if he were a threat to their supposed credibility. With reluctance, they could jettison him.

It won't happen on its own. They may be impatient or somewhat disillusioned that he hasn't cure the world's ills yet, but they still believe. They still think he inherited economic and international hell from that devil Bush. He still has a grace period with them that would, unimpeded extend beyond four years.

But external factors like his level of popularity, will influence the level of their kid gloves with him. It will influence their patience and ultimately, if things deteriorate enough, their belief in his messiah-like status.

This is good news for conservatives as the cracks have already started to appear. Today, the Associated Press did a fact check on Obama's propaganda conference last night. They found mistakes. Would that have been possible at the Love-In that was his first propaganda conference? Well, it didn't really happen. Instead he got questions like 'if you were a tree...' from the NY Times.

What it means for Republicans in 2010

True it took 6 months for his popularity to come down this far. In this climate, the popularity decline was bound to be front-end loaded. So Obama's continued popularity decline may continue at a slower pace than we've seen so far. But over 10 points in 6 months (Gallup had him at 68% day one and 57% today) means that even at have the rate of decline to date, he will be down by 15 points in his first year. From 68% to 53% by next January, still seems manageable for Democrats in the mid-term elections. If the popularity decline continues at an even slower pace, his popularity might be at or slightly below 50% by the November 2010 election day. Good news for Republicans.

Of course not as good as if you straight-lined the decline in which case his popularity would be in the tank. If he has lost roughly 10 points in 6 months, then over the 22 months from inauguration day until the mid-term elections he will have lost 36% of his job approval rating, and he'd be sitting 32%. Hardly a winning recipe for Democrat success. But that's not going to happen. Here's why - at that rate over the 46 months from his inauguration until the next Presidential election, his job approval ratings would have fallen by 77% from their starting point of 68% (that's not 77% of 68%, but rather 77% total). In other words, his popularity would be at minus 9%. Absurd.

But it displays the fallacy of straight-lining his popularity decline. It doesn't work. And it doesn't continue at that rate for another reason. Each incremental percentage point of loss is theoretically more difficult than the last. As you move from reluctant Obama voters, to fence sitters and towards die-hard Obama supporters, each becomes harder and harder to convince the President is doing a bad job. So the rate of popularity decline - barring an unforeseen event like a national disaster or national major achievement (which would reverse it) - has to slow down.

The President is becoming less and less popular - no one could live up to the pre-election hype and reality is setting in for many people. It will continue, and you can expect that depending on the speed of the decline, the press to increasingly join in with the blue dog Democrats, who are apparently destroying the Obama Presidency.


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